By Mark Williams, Photos by Evan Sears
There isn’t anything more iconic in Dallas than Big Tex, the 52-foot greeter that welcomes State Fair attendees. This year marks his 60th birthday. In fact, Big Tex stands at the entrance of the outdoor truck exhibit where all the major manufacturers of pickup trucks hope to lure unsuspecting Texans to their new half-ton, three-quarter-ton and one-ton cargo haulers. As you might expect, Ford and Chevy have the biggest displays, but Ram Truck and Toyota are making a push.
2013 Ram HD 3500 Long Horn
The big news at the fair was that Ram Truck introduced a significantly improved and upgraded Ram HD and chassis cab lineup. The 2500 HD and 3500 HD models get all-new frames with upgraded (and stronger) front and rear suspensions. There are plenty of improvements to the Cummins engine, now offered with three different transmissions, each with a different horsepower and torque rating. Our favorite piece of technology on the beefed-up Cummins is the dual-inlet air intake, which selects between warm or cold air depending on conditions. Buyers of the 2013 Ram HD will likely be most impressed with the new interior dash layout and the new trim packages that offer the big 8.4-inch screen on most of the lineup; those same interior upgrades are included in the chassis cab work-duty models as well. Expect more detailed info on price and exact towing and payload numbers at the Detroit auto show in January.
2013 Ford Super Duty Platinum
Ford gave select journalists the chance to drive and tow with the all-new Super Duty Platinum pickups. This trim level sits above King Ranch and starts at $53,000, and it offers almost $20,000 worth of options, including a new well-sorted fifth-wheel prep package. We have to admit the ride and look of the truck is impressive, though we didn’t get to drive every configuration. The most significant highlight is the new center stack with the 8-inch screen and upgraded MyFord Touch system. The woodgrain, leather and satin chrome accents are similar to the ultra-plush, high-end furniture. The Platinum model can be ordered with either the 6.2-liter V-8 or 6.7-liter Power Stroke. Early orders, we’re told, are just under 20 percent of the mix but are expected to settle down to 2 or 3 percent of total Super Duty sales.
2013 Ford F-150 Limited
The other interesting luxury creature Ford brought to the State Fair was the upcoming Ford F-150 Limited. This, too, is the new top-of-the-line model and does not have many mechanical changes from current models, but it does offer a few unique features. A new grille, high-intensity-discharge headlights, 22-inch wheels, retractable side steps, plush leather seating and a redesigned interior dash are just few of the details that separate this model from the competition. The half-ton SuperCrew will start just under $50,000 and be offered with quite a few options that push pricing close to $60,000 — for a half-ton truck! The Limited is only offered with the EcoBoost for now, but that could change.
What We’re Driving
GM was kind enough to set us up with a 2013 Chevy Silverado 2500 HD LTZ with the Duramax engine. Even though the truck was plush with all the options — listing for a touch over $60,000 (to view this monroney, click here) — we were practically invisible driving around Dallas. Full-size pickups, especially heavy-duty models with all the goodies, are quite common around here. As nice as this Silverado was, it doesn’t come close to matching what Ford was showing. Now you understand why all the truck manufacturers have made the State Fair of Texas a must-visit stop for all their executives and engineers. The fair is good time to talk to people who know trucks and find out what they’re thinking.
2013 Ford F-150 King Ranch
Ford took advantage of its 12-year history with the King Ranch people (owned and operated by real people in South Texas) to introduce the newest edition, the 2013 Ford F-150 SuperCrew King Ranch. Nothing has really changed on the model, but all 2013s get the new center stack with the new wider and taller screen and upgraded MyFord Touch setup.
Chevy Silverado Turns 95
The only real GM news we heard about was that Chevy Silverado is celebrating 95 years of truck making at the show by sponsoring all the musical acts that will play each weekend of the fair. Some of the models they called out in the press release were interesting, so we might condense it a bit, once we track down a few photos, and pass it along.
VW’s 100-Gallon Hat
Although Volkswagen has made it quite clear it (still) has no intention to bring the Amarok to the U.S. anytime soon, VW thought it was important to be at the State Fair’s auto show because it seems the turbo-diesel models (most of which have close to or more than 700 miles of tank range) are becoming more popular with long-distance-driving Texans. They even showed a flamboyant Beetle with an entire map of Texas painted on the body, complete with Texas flag colors and donning a 100-gallon cowboy hat.
Explorer Limited G-Vans
With all the talk of certain pickups costing in excess of $65,000, we thought it would be nice to show some other functional and versatile vehicles for the same amount of money (to see the monroney, click here). This Explorer Limited van conversion was off sitting by itself during the press day, so we didn’t get to talk anyone about them, but the sticker said it had a satellite HDTV inside, four reclining leather captain’s chairs, plenty of extra headroom height and a comfy couch. The GM full-size chassis van conversion can be ordered in either 1500 or 2500 configurations and can hold seven or nine passengers. This model had the Vortec 5.3-liter V-8, and was built in Wentzville, Mo. — the same plant that will soon switch over to Chevy Colorado and GMC Canyon production.
2013 Ram Power Wagon
There’s nothing really new about the 2013 Power Wagons (beyond the upgrades that all the new Ram HDs get), but Ram did show this custom truck, and it was coolest truck of the show. The new Power Wagon still uses the five-link front suspension (all 2013 Ram 2500 HDs will continue to the use the five-link; the three-link setup is only for the 3500, which has the wider front frame section), but it does get all the other upgraded goodies: new frame, gauges and dash layout. The Hemi will continue to be the only engine available for Power Wagon. And, yes, this suspension has been quite modified, and no, this will not be a new paint-color option.
Anytime you get a group of journalists together, there are always pieces of information that get tossed around that may or may not be true. Here are the most credible ones we heard:
- Sources at Ram were talking about some improvements being discussed for the next-gen Hemi. Some improvements could include direct injection, switching to an overhead-cam setup and a more aggressive cylinder deactivation program.
- Cummins and Nissan really are working on a project to provide the Titan with the first turbo-diesel option in the half-ton segment. No dates or timing was given.
- Even though the newest high-lux Super Duty isn’t in dealerships yet, the early ordering rates have Ford thinking there may be room for an even higher, more luxurious trim package above the new Platinum.